Would anyone ever dare write THIS?

The following is a Critical, Satiritical Comment of Settler Colonial construct of identity.

The Inuit Fantasy of Being ‘Indian’?:)

By Qallunette
Email: Qallunette@gmail.com
Website: http://www.Qallunette.com
Twitter: @Qallunette

This is a response to the piece which was published in Alberta Poliblog Monday, 18 ApriL, 2016 by Professor Daniel Leroux, and retrieved from http://albertapoliblog.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-white-fantasy-of-being-indian-brief.html.

To illustrate the bias of the Writer and the agenda of exclusive Métis organizations, the author of the present piece simply interchanged Métis, metis and corresponding Indigenous community names with Inuit, inuit, Inuk, inuk and Inuit communities. ed: Inuk is and actual Indigenous word meaning “person“; Inuit means “many persons” or “People“.

It has been several days since the Daniels decision came down from the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), and not surprisingly, it is being welcomed by an incredible range of organizations and individuals. To be clear, I’m cautiously favourable to some of the decision’s likely impacts, but I want to take a moment to focus on the section that is getting the most attention among those organizations and individuals that I am familiar with given my research.

Let me begin with the following statement, offered by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella on behalf of the court, which is being repeated over and over again by nascent “inuit” organizations a little bit all over: “’Inuit’ can refer to the historic Inuit community in Nunavut Settlements or it can be used as a general term for anyone with mixed European and Aboriginal heritage,” Abella wrote. “There is no consensus on who is considered Inuit, nor need there be. Culture and ethnic labels do not lend themselves to neat boundaries.”
The statement seems relatively inane, but taken to its logical conclusion – as these organizations and individuals wasted no time doing – it explicitly argues for a position that fulfills the always-appealing Inuit fantasy of being “Indian.”

In the immediate aftermath of the decision, Pam Palmater has explained the impacts well in, “Don’t partake in celebrations over new Supreme Court ruling on Inuit just yet”: “To my mind, the Daniels decision is less about reconciliation and more about erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and identity. It takes John Ralston Saul’s idea of ‘we are all Inuit people’ together with the newest Canadian slogan ‘we are all treaty people’ and opens the floodgates to every person in Canada claiming a long lost Inuk ancestor and asserting their identity and control over our lands and rights. It has the potential to effectively eliminate any real sovereignty or jurisdiction Indigenous Nations have over our own citizens and territories. It does not bolster Inuit claims, but instead confuses them. It does not address the discrimination faced by actual non-status Indians, but paints them with the Inuit “mixed identity brush.”

Indeed, demographic research in Québec has demonstrated that a significant majority of the descendants of 17th-century French settlers today have at least one Indigenous ancestor, likely from one of the 13 Indigenous women who married settlers prior to 1680. I am one of those descendants, who, due to intermarriage among French-Canadians for 11 generations, has multiple Indigenous ancestors. But keep in mind that having 2, 3, or 5 Indigenous ancestors in the 17th century or 10+ generations ago represents no more than 0.1-1% Indigenous ancestry, a fact borne out over and over again in both genealogical (family history) and genetic (DNA ancestry testing) research in Québec. – ed: This factoid is running contrary to the Esteemed Dr. Gérard Bouchard, Historian, Sociologist and writer actually from Quebec, Canada, affiliated with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. His brother is Lucien Bouchard, founding member of the Quebec Sovereigntist movement. See Professor Bouchard’s article here: https://goo.gl/HDP8gp (translated via Google for Readers and Esteemed Unilingual Academia)

In fact, the same studies, conducted by Québécois researchers in French, strongly suggest that it’s still more likely that today’s French-descendant population have English ancestry and ancestry from another European ethnicity (e.g., German, Portuguese, Irish) than Indigenous ancestry. In my own ancestral history prior to 1700, I am related to the daughter of a German aristocrat who later became the proprietor of an infamous brothel in Montréal and to an English woman who migrated to New France with her French husband.
Of course, in today’s world, Inuit obsessively mark our long-ago Indigenous ancestry, often in order to claim Indigenous identity. It has become integral to Inuit strategies to dispossess Indigenous lands, as the days-old response to the Daniels case is making clear. The glee with which these new “inuit” groups are claiming a slew of “rights” and even territorial jurisdiction is breathtaking. What’s more, many of these organizations – for example, a couple of “inuit” organizations in NunatuKavut and the largest in Nunavik, Québec, – actively oppose Indigenous peoples today through a variety of innovative revisions to history and political claims. It’s disheartening to see these efforts come to fruition in the Daniels decision.

In, “The Supreme Court ruling on Inuit: A roadmap to nowhere,” a noted Inuk scholar laid out what’s at stake in the Daniels decision for the Inuit people, hours after the decision: “If Inuit identity really is simply about mixed aboriginal and non-aboriginal ancestry, can a distant ancestor located in an archival document or even a DNA test now serve as bases for adjudicating claims of Inuit identity rather than culture, community or link to the Inuit people? … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Thursday that the government of Canada plans to respect the Daniels decision and will work toward reconciliation – let’s hope that governments are clear on what it means to reconcile with historically rooted indigenous peoples rather than more recently identifying individuals.”

Without a doubt, the new “inuit” – who often openly admit to identifying as “inuit” either because they’re not accepted as Indigenous by those Indigenous peoples whose territories they inhabit and/or as a way to access Charter rights – are largely French-descendant people whose claims to Indigeneity must be challenged. While there are certainly parallel claims by peoples who have been unjustly disenfranchised by the Indian Act regime – and I am personally quite sympathetic to such claims – the new “inuit” employ the language of colonialism, violence, and victimhood as a symbolic weapon against Indigenous peoples.

I’ll leave you with this thought: under the SCC’s recent argument, upwards of 10 million descendants of the earliest French settlers now living in Rigolet, in Yellowknife, in Goose Bay, in Nain, and other locations, can be considered Inuit, simply because they have one Indigenous ancestor (often the same!) prior to 1700, a period in which no more than a few thousand French settlers lived in a dozen settlements along Northern rivers.
The SCC’s inability or unwillingness to adopt Indigenous forms of governance and self-determination – including when it comes to community membership and/or citizenship – in its own boundary-making exercise, speaks to its role as a colonial institution. I hope the ensuing conversation presents a coherent challenge to the white fantasy of becoming “Inuit” that Daniels has authorized.

capital M

Qallunette is an *actual* keeper of her family’s Oral History. As Métis from unceded Atikamekw Nation land of Nitaskinan, her grandparents did not let her forget her kinship. She grew up Métis with her parents in Lanaudière and Nunavut and currently resides at Tiohtià:ke unceded land.

Qallunette is neither Academia nor Polity, but grows increasingly irritated at its lateral violence while Indigenous Peoples attempt to Own Ourselves, and would like to see more effort on Decolonization of Academic spaces – or at a bare minimum, respectful discourse towards Indigenous communities who share land outside their own. Policing identity and belonging must be left to the communities who share common land.

If the Supreme Court of Canada does allow to do so, strange that Professor Leroux allow himself there from an external standpoint.
Whether Inuk, First Nation or Métis, it is our ties to the land that identify us – certainly not persons who are (or who have chosen) to self-identify as Easterners-White-With-Indigenous-Ancestor-Yet-White-Nevertheless-Pride.


Historic Ruling

by Dr. Sebastien Malette, Consultant to the Metis Federation of Canada, Intervenor in SCC Daniels Appeal

I have attached the Metis Federation of Canada (MFC) Factum of the Intervener for the Daniels case per a drop box link here.

At the last page you can see the argument brought forward the Court: that if any consideration should be given to the Métis question about identity, it should be in line with the most progressive International standards when it comes to the recognition of both Indigenous diversity (and thus Métis diversity within Canada as already recognized by the SCC), and the ability for each Métis/Non-Status community to self-define their identity and relationship with the Federal government.

For that reason, MFC has submitted to the SCC that:
(1) self-identification,
(2) ancestral connection and
(3) community acceptance

should suffice as criteria under the section 91(24), not only for the Métis peoples, but in fact also for the Non-Status Indians, in fact for all Indigenous peoples of Canada.

In short, the MFC has offered a way forward to cut across all these arbitrarily lines and red tapes that now divide Indigenous identities from a head of power standpoint.

It is hoped in my understanding that this suggestion could potentially limit the propagation of animosity between the different Indigenous groups and identities, due to governmental selective recognition and action.

Hence MFC tried their best to be fair and mostly inclusive for any Indigenous involved under section 91 (24), and for all future generations.

It is also my understanding that this would not have been possible without the precious pro-bono help from Christopher Devlin and Métis lawyer Cynthia Westaway and their Law firm (Devlin, Gailus Westaway), who stood up with us shoulder to shoulder.

Tomorrow, many hope a new direction. I take this opportunity to salute the memory of Harry Daniels, and the courage of his son, Gabriel. I also salute Leah Gardner, from Ontario; Terry Joudrey, from Nova Scotia.



Wearing Medicine pouch as an act of Decolonization

I have to be honest: growing up, I’d never seen a Medicine pouch. But then again, neither had I even attended Powwow or Sweat Lodge. They were banned by the government in 1925.

Kill the Indian, Save the Man.

First time I saw a Medicine pouch was sometimes in the 1990s – I don’t remember exactly when, but I know that I was expecting at the time.

I was fascinated by how beautiful the “necklace” was: made of leather I could smell had been smoke-tanned. The smell of “home tanned” leather triggers some visceral response in me. But there was something more familiar about the pouch that kept niggling at the back of my mind.

Year after year, attending Powwows and other Indigenous cultural events, I’d see these “necklaces” at the vendor booths. Different patterns, differently crafted, each unique.

Out of all of the beautiful crafts, these were what attracted me the most. But I never had purchased one – concerned about First Nation appropriation.

But why did this Medicine pouch seem so familiar?

My grandmother.

My Métis grandmother. The one who really, really would have never self-identified as Métis. The gggggrandchild of Catherine Anenonta and Louis Durand.

Her Scapulaires Verts.


I think she must have had a stash of them everywhere. Each pouch contained a shiny medallion and a piece of camfor. Each time she’d see me without mine on, she’d pull another one out like magic.

I hated those Scapulaires Verts. They STANK and made me reek. She’d make me afraid something bad would happen to me if I didn’t wear it.

My grandfather hated them. Once, while we were driving out of town, he asked me to give it to him, rolled down his truck window, chucked it out without saying anything more about it


Here we are, over 40 years since the stinky “necklaces”. What the heck were they anyways? Why did my grandmother insist I wear one at all times?

I consulted the Catholic Encyclopedia , under Individual Small Scapularies; several different ones are described, but nothing about Green Scapularies.

Apart from information from obscure religious sources on prayers to go with the scapulary, all I found was this paragraph, translated from French, from Mary of Nazareth:

“The Green Scapular was the subject of two successive approvals of Pope Pius IX in 1863 and in 1870 ; but Satan, who knows its invaluable worth, succeeded long and still today to prevent the distribution in large numbers”

Oh Satan.

But, heeey – the cultural partimony department of the government of Quebec has it listed as a cultural icon in their Répertoire



Around the same time of the Gradual Civilization Act, the Scapulaire Vert became the tool used to replace the medicine pouch. In the book, published in 1877, the Annals of the Propagandation of Faith, a single passage of how the “Savages” were adopting the devotion.

The Catholic Church exchanged medicine pouches for Scapulaires Verts. They tried to enfranchise us with a piece of green felt and shiny medallions. They convinced women that camfor was better than our Meshki Ki.


I now wear a medicine pouch, filled with Meshki Ki as an act of decolonization. And it doesn’t stink.

All Our Relations.



#Decolonization of #Métis Identity

What parts of a whole does a Métis make?

Is it Scrip? Treaty? Constitution? Law? Acts? What is the common thread of these terms? Well, they were all written by Settlers.

Is it Community? Well, Settler Courts have had to determine whether a community really “exists”, usually through harvesting and/or Land Claims.

Is it blood quantum? I don’t know. Although it could provide *empirical proof*, history has shown that blood quantum theory hasn’t worked in favour of Indigenous Peoples and other minorities in the past. And, well, it’s kind of offensive to me to think of having to give a dna test to prove I’m Indigenous…

Is it based on historical events? If so, will those events be selected by consensus, by politics, by Settler-based rules?

Is it going to be a concession to a majority who screams the loudest? A minority that needs to be protected?

Is it Self-Identification? I think that may be a start. But it’s obviously not everything, otherwise everybody could jump on the Indigenous wagon – and there’s a lot to unpack in that baggage bundle, right?

Many fields in Academia are presently studying the important question surrounding the definition of Who is a *real* Métis. Sociology is looking at the Social construct of Métis communities and try to define an ethnogenesis. Anthropology is looking at linguistic, sociocultural, biological, and archaeological workings of Métis communities. History is pouring over books and documents and Law is looking at precedence.

Academia needs money. From the buildings to the bodies, research demands funding, time and help. Where does the money come from? What is expected in return?

I need not, nor want any of those things. I keep it because my genealogy was given to me. It shows that many different  branches tie back to the same First Nation ancestors, showing how the community developed.

In addition to these direct ancestors, I have also documented their siblings when I could, to show that other communities evolved from close kin connections. It is interesting to read birth and marriage records to see the names of witnesses that were often neighbours that could trace their ancestry to the same First Nation ancestor!

I think that genealogy – which, to me, is the naming of those who came before us (manitoweyimiwew in Cree,

aanikoobijigan in Anishinaabe,

iethihsothó:kon in Kanien’kéha) is an act of Decolonization.

The debates are heated, often violent – and, as I have mentioned before – really reflective of the influences of Settlers.

Let’s move on. There’s lots of work to be done.

Pour les #Métis et les Indiens Non-Statués

par Prof. Sebastien Malette

La Fédération Métisse du Canada a intervenu devant la plus haute Cour du pays

le 8 octobre dernier afin de suggérer que tous les Métis et Non-Statués soient inclus comme “Indiens” sous l’article 91 (24). La Fédération Métisse du Canada cherchait ainsi à rendre justice à tous les Autochtones au sujet de la responsabilité du Fédéral sur la plan de la division des pouvoirs entre les provinces et le Fédéral, soit l’article 91 (24) de la Constitution de 1867. 

Nous avons suggéré un test en trois parties, à savoir: 

 1) une preuve d’ethnicité autochtone (incluant la culture, et non seulement la “race” ou le blood quantum qui sont des concepts désuets) 

2) auto-identification 

 3) l’acceptation d’une communauté (sans définir celle-ci au préalable, suivant en ceci la jurisprudence de la Cour Suprême) 

Ce test nous permettrait, il est espéré,  de sortir des compétitions définitionnelles (entre Métis de l’Ouest et de l’Est par exemple), et laisserait à tous/toutes la liberté de joindre la communauté la mieux ressentie (en accord mutuel avec celle-ci). 

Je dois être clair: ce règlement advenant, les Métis et Non-Statués ne seront pas des “Indiens” au sens de la loi sur les Indiens qui est un acte parlementaire (dont la discrétion et l’abolition revient au Parlement). Ce jugement est néanmoins important pour ces possibles conséquences pour les Métis et non-Statué qui auront l’heure juste sur l’identité de qui est d’abord responsable des négociations et des règlements concernant possiblement les Métis et les Non-Statués. 

Une référence semblable a d’ailleurs été rendue par la cour Suprême au sujet des Inuits, qui furent reconnus comme des “Indiens” en 1939, sans toutefois être des Indiens au sens de la loi sur les Indiens de 1876, ni même comme “Premières Nations (si nous assumons que le terme "Indien” réfère d’abord aux “Premières Nations”). 

Si certains membres des Premières Nations craignent suivant ce jugement l’introduction forcée de membres, ou la perte de privilège “paradoxalement” issue d’une loi coloniale datant de 1876, il est de mon opinion que ces craintes sont pour l’instant non-fondées. 

Si des Premières Nations veulent accueillir des Non-statués, selon les anciennes coutumes de l’adoption qui autrefois restaurait la puissance de plusieurs Nations, cela demeurera à leur discrétion collective (du moins je l’espère). 

S’agissant des Métis de l’Est et de l’Ouest et les Premières Nations, nous ne pouvons espérer que des meilleures négociations/relations entre nous, en mettant l’accent sur ce que nous partageons comme valeurs et souvent comme liens de parenté. 

Pour les Métis, il s’agira d’établir un équilibre entre la survivance culturelle, l’autonomie, et le rétablissement d’alliance avec les Premières Nations avec qui ils partagent le territoire et son Esprit. 

Ceci étant dit, un règlement positif pour les Métis/Non-statués aura des conséquences en ce sens que le Fédéral devra voir à sa responsabilité envers les Métis et les Non-Statués, décrits par la Juge en Chef comme prisonnier actuellement d’un “no-man’s land” constitutionnel. 

Ce règlement représente donc une pièce importante dans les négociations à venir afin d’établir un traitement plus juste pour l’ensembles des Peuples Autochtones du pays (qui – même si nous incluons toute les personnes ayant une descendance Autochtone – ne représente que moins de 5% de la population totale du Canada)

If I can’t call myself Métis, who can?


I’m still obsessing over questions regarding identity, community, kinship and blood-quantum in my own quest to reclaim my own identity.

In my previous post, I wrote about my kinship to Louis Riel, whose father, along with many other Lanaudois traveled West in search of a place to remain “Gens Libres” – Freemen. There is no doubt in my mind, and I have provided in previous posts empirical evidence that the concept of Métis predates the Red River and may well have been born in Lanaudière, amongst the Riel, Dubois, Parenteau, Lagimodière

I’m also meeting so many interesting people along the way who are experiencing a similar internal questioning. What strikes me most is the battle for identity is so personal and a very intimate journey, yet is so overshadowed by a public battle over land and hunting rights. And this war is leaving deep wounds. Inclusion to an official Indigenous Membership vs Settling in with the Settlers.

So – Academics and Policy Makers, be kind. There are people being hurt, no matter how the pie is sliced. Don’t be an insensitive douche when extolling the virtues of your opinion. Everyone’s reality is as real as yours. Remember the bias of perception.

That being said: I don’t know who has the “right” to call oneself Métis. It is not for me to say. But I sure as hell know that I do. The word Métis comes from the very region where I’m from. Like the Riel, Dubois, Lagimodière, Parenteau, etc..etc…etc… Believe me – or don’t – but we called ourselves Métis before 1982; we called ourselves Métis before 1885. I won’t be cruel to kin (even if they are to us) and accuse THEM of appropriation. But I’d like to invite them to examine the facts.


(source: http://www.erudit.org/revue/cqd/2009/v38/n2/044815ar.html?vue=figtab&origine=integral&imID=im10&formatimg=imPlGr)

I can’t predict which way the Daniels Appeal will pan out (if it happens). I can’t predict if the discussion with the Appointed Ministerial Special Representative to lead engagement with Métis, Tom Isaac will resolve the negotiations prior to the Appeal being heard next October. But meanwhile, I keep pondering these numbers with much empathy for those who feel disenfranchised:

Source: Canada Census, 2006

Because Indigenous identity shouldn’t be a numbers game…